How To Wash Down Pillows? [8 Steps]

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The softness of down pillows makes them a great option as both bed and couch pillows. But can you actually wash down-filled pillows? And if so, how? In this post, we are going to answer this for you.

Yes, oftentimes down-filled pillows are machine washable. However, it is recommended that you first check the care tag instructions before attempting to put them in the washing machine. That being stated, here are the main steps involved with washing down-filled pillows:

  1. Take off the pillowcase
  2. Inspect the pillow
  3. Toss the pillow in the washer
  4. Add an extra rinse
  5. Remove from washer and inspect
  6. Toss the pillow in the dryer
  7. Hang it up to air dry
  8. Wait for one to two hours

If maintained properly, down pillows can last quite a while. Let’s learn how to keep them clean. We’ll also cover how to tell if your pillow is feather or down, how to make your pillows fluffy again, how to get that musty smell out of your pillows, and more. So be sure to keep reading. 

Bedroom in warm colors with creative atmosphere, How to Wash Down Pillows? [8 Steps]

A Guide For Washing Down Pillows

Four white pillows with flowers placed on top and the side

Over time, down pillows may start to smell bad and/or develop stains as a result of frequent usage. However, throwing them in the washing machine for a quick cleanse can help to alleviate these things. Here are the steps for doing so.

1. Check The Care Tag

Not all down pillows are washable. Some pillows may have chemicals or materials that shouldn’t be placed in washing machines. Before attempting to wash the pillow (this includes surface washing), it’s important to make sure that you are abiding by the recommendations listed on the tag. If not, you’ll risk ruining your pillows as they may become damaged in the washer or grow mold or mildew.

2. Inspect The Pillow

Next, take a good look at your pillow, and ensure that there are no tears or holes on its surface or seams. Look for any feathers that may be poking out from the seams. If you do notice holes or tears, you may want to consider hand-washing the pillow (or repair them with a needle and thread) in the bathtub as opposed to adding them to the washing machine.

3. Toss The Pillow In The Washer

If you have regular sized down pillows, place both of them in the washer at the same time. Doing so helps to keep the washer balanced during the rinse and spin cycles. If you have king-sized pillows, only place one in the washer at a time. Next, place a small amount of mild detergent (enough for 1/4 a load) in the washer and set it to a delicate cycle on cold water.

4. Add An Extra Rinse

Once the pillows have completed the rinse cycle, select the option for a second rinse. If you do not have this option, take the pillows through another quick wash, but do not add any detergent this time. A second rinse/wash will help to remove all of the laundry detergent from the feathers.

5. Remove From Washer And Inspect

After removing the pillows from the washer, use your hands to fluff them up a bit and get rid of any lumps by separating and vigorously shaking them.

6. Toss The Pillow In The Dryer

Toss the pillows in the dryer, and then select the lowest setting on your dryer (such as “cool” or “low heat”). Next, throw a couple of tennis balls (or dryer balls), if you have them, in with the pillows to help them regain their fluffiness and keep them from sticking to the dryer walls.

Check out these dryer balls on Amazon.

7. Hang Them Up To Air Dry

It’s always good to allow the pillows some time to air-dry before using them again. If you have a clothesline outside or in your laundry room, you can pin them up on it as well.

8. Wait For One To Two Hours

Air-drying helps your pillows to get a bit of clean air and removes any extra dampness within the feathers. Be sure that your pillows are completely dry before using them again, or you may find that they develop musty odors rather quickly.

How Do You Know If Your Pillow Is Feather Or Down?

Down refers to the soft under feathers of a goose or duck. Pillows that are made from down feathers will typically have it listed on the label. Some pillows may contain both feather and down. Another thing to look at is the “fill number” which will be listed on the pillow if it is down. Quality down pillows usually come with a fill number between 600 and 800. Note: the greater the fill, the better the insulation.

Can You Dry A Down Pillow? How?

White laundry room interior

Yes, oftentimes down pillows can be dried in laundry dryers, and it’s actually preferred over air-drying, as it helps to prevent the accumulation of mold and mildew. Here are the steps to drying a down pillow.

Step 1

Get rid of any excess water from the pillow by placing it between two large towels and then pressing down on it to squeeze the water out. Make sure to use large towels so that the excess water is soaked up and doesn’t spill on the floor. If the pillows are too weighty, it may be a good idea to do this in a bathtub. Be careful not to ring or twist the pillows and anyway, as it could damage the feathers.

Step 2

Toss the pillows in the dryer and be sure to place them on a low heat setting (or “delicate” setting). If you have a few tennis balls or dryer balls, toss them in there as well, as they can help to keep the pillows from sticking to the walls. It may take a few drying cycles to remove the moisture from the pillows, but don’t be tempted to turn the setting on high as you may burn the feathers. Every few minutes, take the pillows out and fluff them up to help break up feathers that maybe come together inside.

Step 3

Let the pillow air dry for an hour or two to ensure that all the feathers inside it completely dry (and to avoid mildew). Set a timer so that you can flip the pillow over on the other side every 30 minutes.

How Do You Make Your Pillows Fluffy Again?

Down pillows tend to lose their fluffiness rather quickly, often requiring an occasional re-fluff. Here are a few ways that you can keep your down pillows fluffy.

Start A Daily “Re-Fluffing” Routine

Perform a quick re-fluffing in the morning while making up your bed. Shaking the pillows for just a few seconds can loosen up the feathers and allow air to get into the pillow, adding to its fluffiness.

Let Them Hang Out Outside

Every 3 months or so, lay your pillows out outside by hanging them on a clothesline or laying them on a patio table. Make sure that it’s on a day where there’s plenty of sunshine, warm air, and not a lot of humidity. Just an hour or two outside can help dry out any moisture from within the pillows and leave them with a fresh outdoor smell.

Use Dryer Sheets

Toss your down pillows in the dryer and place them on a “no heat” or “low heat” heat setting. Moisten a couple of scented fabric softener sheets and add them to the dryer. This will make your pillows fluffy again and it’ll leave them with a fresh scent.

Check out these fabric sheets on Amazon.

How Do You Get The Musty Smell Out Of Pillows?

Laying your head down on a pillow that has an odor can be unsettling. Here are a few ways to get musty or stale odors out of your pillows.

A Quick Dryer Run

Every couple of weeks, toss your pillows in the dryer with a couple of damp sheets of fabric softener or a damp washcloth. Then, add in a couple of dryer balls or tennis balls if you have them. Next, turn the dryer on tumble or a low setting and let the pillows run for about 10 to 20 minutes to get refreshed and re-fluffed.

Wash Them

With frequent use, pillows can accumulate dirt like any other fabric. Today, many pillows can be washed in your washing machine, though it’s best to check the carrier tag for specific cleaning instructions first. If they are machine-washable, toss them in the washer on a “hot water” setting.

It’s also helpful to add a half cup of vinegar or a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to the wash before it starts. Vinegar and baking soda both work wonders for removing bad odors, and you won’t have to worry about either ingredient staining the pillows during the wash.

Check out this baking soda on Amazon.

Maintenance & Prevention

To help keep your pillows as fresh as possible, and to keep musty or mildewy odors at bay, try to keep your pillows in an environment with humidity at 50% or less. The more moisture in the air, the more likely the pillow is to absorb it and develop mold or mildew.

Also, let the pillows sit outside for a few hours on a warm sunny day, as this can help to dry them out a bit. And if you have any great smelling herbs such as lavender, chamomile, or vanilla, place a few of them inside a piece of mesh and put the pillow in a case while it sits outside. This will allow the pillow to absorb the scent of the herb while it dries out.

Check out these dried lavender bundles on Amazon.

Wrapping Things Up

Bedroom in warm colors with creative atmosphere

Remember, whether you have down pillows or pillows made of other materials, the first thing to do before washing the pillow is to check the care tag instructions to make sure that it’s okay to either hand wash or machine wash. Having the right knowledge can help you keep it in the best condition possible.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

How To Clean Throw Pillows That Have No Zipper?

How To Cover The Bed Base? [6 Practical Solutions]

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